New Jersey may go fully remote for the upcoming school year if they wish.
What We Know:
- Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he would allow some districts to offer an all-remote option this fall, backpedaling course due to the rise in protests of the idea in reopening school buildings.
- Murphy also delivered an executive order clearing K-12 schools and colleges and universities to resume in-person learning at once.
- With these new guidelines, districts that decide to begin the semester remotely are having to explain why they have not met state health and safety standards to open in person, provide a plan for achieving those standards and provide a date when they will begin in-person instruction.
- Gov. Murphy stated at his latest coronavirus briefing that they acknowledge that for some districts, there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can’t be met on day one. He went on to add, “For these districts, today, we are reaffirming our commitment to provide the flexibility for districts to do what is best for their school community.”
- All this comes amongst the increasing pressure from some local educators, officials, and union leaders to maintain schools closed as COVID-19 continues to affect New Jersey.
- Gov. Murphy said there is not a one-size-fits-all plan and that they are committed to getting this right. He stated that any student who chooses to continue remote learning has to be accommodated.
- Some North Jersey districts have already made petitions to go fully remote in the fall. These include Passaic, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Bayonne. The superintendent said a preparation drill demonstrated it would take hours to check student temperatures as they filed into the high school.
- Yet, for several districts, meeting state guidelines could be complicated. Willingboro Public School Superintendent Neely Hackett said during Gov. Murphy’s conference that the area faces PPE back-orders and inadequate HVAC systems, pausing the openings of the buildings for next month. In July, district leaders voted to go all-remote for the fall semester and researched ventilation upgrades.
Judith Persichilli, State Health Commissioner, said the Health Department would split the state into six regions to track the virus’ impact on schools, similar to how it manages school surveillance. Persichilli also announced four color-coded risk categories for those regions that will be updated every week and used to inform local decisions.